Online Class: Geology 101

Geology is the study of the world around us and the way it was formed. The study expands beyond the earth and includes the building blocks of the whole universe.

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Course Description

Geology: Unraveling Earth's Secrets

Geology is an intricate tapestry that weaves the tale of our world and the universe beyond. This branch of science delves deep into understanding the Earth's composition, structure, and the processes that have shaped it over billions of years.

In the modern age, our everyday lives are profoundly intertwined with geology. Take a moment and think of the house you live in, the roads you traverse, or even the device you're using to read this. The raw materials for these structures and devices—be it stone, metal, or minerals—are products of geological processes. For example, the gold used in electronics doesn't just appear; it's the result of millennia of geological transformations and modern-day mining techniques.

But geology isn't just about identifying rocks or pinpointing where the next big gold deposit might be. It's about understanding the intricate relationships and interactions among Earth's systems. Such knowledge allows us to predict natural disasters, find new sources of energy, and even understand climate change better. When we harness this knowledge, we can make informed decisions to ensure a sustainable future, minimizing the adverse effects of our actions on the environment.

Furthermore, the significance of geology isn't confined to professionals directly involved in earth sciences. Civil engineers rely on geological surveys to ensure the ground they build upon is stable. Architects need to understand local stone types to design structures that blend with or stand out from their surroundings. Urban planners, government officials, and investors often turn to geologists for insights into land use and natural resource management.

This comprehensive course offers a journey through the vast landscape of geology, touching upon its many facets. Here's a brief overview of what you can expect:

  1. Introduction: Dive into the fundamental concepts of geology and understand its importance in our daily lives.
  2. Geology History: Explore the milestones in the evolution of geology as a science.
  3. Fossils and Earth History - Geologic Time: Time travel through Earth's history, marked by significant geological and biological events.
  4. Fossils and Earth History - The Eons and Eras: Delve deeper into specific time periods and the life forms that dominated them.
  5. Rock Types: Understand the classification of rocks and how they play an integral role in Earth's crust.
  6. Geomagnetism: Discover the Earth's magnetic field and its relevance in geology.
  7. Plate Tectonics: Uncover the dynamic movements of Earth's plates and the creation of mountains, earthquakes, and volcanoes.
  8. Recycling and Renewal: Examine the processes that regenerate and transform our planet.
  9. Erosion: Learn about the forces that wear down and reshape the Earth's surface.
  10. Rock, Mineral, and Rock Cycle: A deep dive into the continuous cycle of rock formation, breakdown, and reformation.
  11. Rocks and Minerals: Identify and classify the countless minerals that make up the Earth's crust.
  12. Gemstones and Mining: Venture into the sparkling world of gemstones and the intricacies of mining.
  13. Conclusion: Reflect on the knowledge gained and the journey you've undertaken.

Each lesson is accompanied by relevant assignments, examinations, and netlinks, ensuring a holistic learning experience. As we traverse through the course, you'll not only gain theoretical knowledge but also develop a newfound appreciation for the world beneath your feet.

Join us on this enlightening journey and gain a deeper, more profound understanding of the planet we call home. Whether you're a budding geologist, a curious student, or someone looking to gain more knowledge about the world around you, this course offers a world of discovery waiting to be unearthed.

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Course Motivation

What is Geology?

Geology is all about the earth. It is the study of the world around us and the way it was formed. In the broader scope of things, the study expands beyond the earth and includes the building blocks of the whole universe. It is the study of rocks, minerals, volcanoes, tsunamis, landslides, asteroids, ancient history, the future ahead of us, and the ground we are standing on today. Without the study of geology, it would have been very difficult to build the modern world around us. For one thing, it would have been nearly impossible to locate building materials for our roads, houses, and office buildings. Without ready access to metals like gold, we would never have been able to make the wide range of electrical devices like cell phones and digital cameras that we all depend on today. 

But the study of geology is about more than just identifying rocks or finding mineral deposits. It is the study of how all of Earth's systems work together so that we can work with nature instead of against it, and we can have a better grasp of the future implications of our actions on the world around us.

What does a geologist do?

Since the field is so broad, geologists tend to specialize in certain areas. Volcanologists study volcanoes. Seismologists study earthquakes. Hydrologists study the interactions of water and the earth. Paleontologists study the ancient history of the earth. Some geologists help build safer buildings in areas where there are known hazards, like earthquakes. Others help find mineral deposits or look for likely places to locate gemstones, like diamonds. Some geologists analyze geological maps to suggest places to dig for coal or drill for oil. Others work for government organizations like the United States Geological Survey, or they teach in universities. Many geologists have advanced degrees, like Master's degrees or Ph.D.'s). 

How does someone train to be a geologist?

People who are interested in becoming professional geologists usually take a lot of courses in the earth sciences, math, and computers. Because geology touches so many other subjects, coursework in all the sciences is helpful. Geologists must at least earn a Bachelor's degree, but for the specialized fields, they usually continue on to do graduate work. Even for people who don't want to be professional geologists, it is critical in any field to understand how the Earth's systems all work together. For example, if you want to build a building, you have to understand what kind of earth it's going to be sitting on. If your building will be located near the ocean, you will have to build the foundation a certain way so that water doesn't leak in during every high tide. If you are building it along a fault line, you will have to make sure it can withstand moderate earthquakes, and that it isn't built on a spot likely to collapse in a landslide.


Even if you do something you think is totally unrelated to geology, the forces of the Earth impact your life every day, and you impact the Earth, as well. Understanding, for example, that everything you rinse down your sink, flush down a toilet, or pour into the grass will eventually return to the groundwater and end up in the glass you pour from the kitchen sink, might make you think differently about the next sip of water you drink. Every day, politicians and people on the news talk about saving the environment and protecting the ozone layer. They talk about global warming and climate change, they want to get you to vote for them based on their statements about Earth Science. In order to make an informed decision, it is important for everyone to understand what a complex and powerful set of systems make up our Earth, and to understand that there are still a huge number of unanswered questions about how all the pieces work together.

This course will not be able to answer all of those questions, since the top researchers in the world are still trying to answer them themselves, but it will help you get a basic understanding of the many forces at work on the Earth. If there is one constant on this planet, it is change. 

This course will also offer some suggestions for further research as you move along, just in case a particular topic really grabs your interest.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.3 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(2,822 votes)

Lesson 1 : Introduction

Geology is all about the earth. It is the study of the world around us and the way it was formed. In the broader scope of things, the study expands beyond the earth and includes the building blocks of the whole universe. 14 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Where in the World?; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 : Introduction

Lesson 2 : Geology History

In the beginning, people were just trying to find the best kinds of rocks to make arrowheads, or to use in a slingshot. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 : Geology History

Lesson 3 : Fossils and Earth History--Geologic Time

When people talk about how long ago something happened, they often say "not too long ago," or "a long time ago." But the definitions of these expressions tend to vary with the age of the speaker. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Generating Interest
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 Exam

Lesson 4 : Fossils and Earth History--The Eons and Eras

Lasting only 65 million years, the Cenozoic is the modern day world we know, the age of mammals, birds, flowering plants, and insects. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 Exam

Lesson 5 : Rock Types

Igneous rocks are formed when hot magma cools. There are two different kinds of igneous rocks: Plutonic (intrusive) and volcanic (extrusive). 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 : Rock types

Lesson 6 : Geomagnetism

The earth has its own magnetic field, so compasses point north. Compasses have been used for centuries as a reliable navigation tool for travelers on land and sea, also good when the sun or stars were behind clouds. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 : Geomagnetism

Lesson 7 : Plate Tectonics

Ever since its earliest days, the Earth has been constantly changing and recreating itself. Even today, it continues to move and evolve. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 : Plate Tectonics

Lesson 8 : Recycling and Renewal

Okay, so we know that plates are making mountains, but what's happening to all the plates that keep sinking under other plates? Where does all this material go? 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 : Recycling and Renewal

Lesson 9 : Erosion

In the previous chapter, we talked about how the backbones of the mountains are raised from the ground, but we have not yet discussed the thin blanket of soil that lies between the bedrock and the atmosphere. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 : Erosion

Lesson 10 : Rock, Mineral, and Rock Cycle

Geologists often talk about the rock cycle. This is one illustration of the many ways the earth reuses everything. Take, for example, the Appalachian Mountains. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 10 : Rock, Mineral, and Rock Cycle

Lesson 11 : Rocks and Minerals

If you have ever gone for a walk and seen a pretty rock, you might have picked it up and admired it, but did you ever wonder where it came from, how it arrived where it is, how old it might be. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 : Rocks and Minerals

Lesson 12 : Gemstones and Mining

Unlike the very specific definition of a mineral, the term "gemstone" is much looser. It is an attractive stone or mineral that is polished and used to make jewelry. Additional lesson topics: Kimberley Process; How Diamonds are Formed 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 12 : Gemstones and Mining

Lesson 13 : Conclusion

The science of Geology started with the need to find minerals that would allow people to improve their basic quality of life. 550 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Lesson discussions: And the Winner Is...; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Summarize the history of geology.
  • Describe fossils and earth history--geologic time.
  • Describe fossils and earth history--the eons and eras.
  • Define rock types.
  • Describe geomagnetism.
  • Summarize plate tectonics.
  • Describe recycling and renewal processes.
  • Describe erosion.
  • Summarize rocks, minerals, and the rock cycle.
  • Describe gemstones and mining.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
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Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Geology 101
Course Number: 7550430
Lessons Rating: 4.3 / 5 Stars (2,822 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: October 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.8 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: UniversalClass Instructional Team
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "It was a very interesting course, I learned a lot and enjoyed it. The material was presented in an easy to understand way. The course tutor marked the assessments very quickly which provided encouraging feedback as I progressed through the course. There were a lot of additional reference material links which was an added bonus." -- Patricia C.
  • "I enjoyed this course. I thought it was hard, but interesting and I learned quite a bit of information." -- Erin F.
  • "April was so helpful and great. I really liked her a lot would love to have her again as an instructor in the future if I take additional science courses." -- Piero G.
  • "Good course - the instructor was prompt in grading assignments and tests, and in answering questions. Thanks for the experience!" -- Anne C.
  • "The instructor was very fair and encouraging. When I had trouble in one lesson, she compared my results from previous lessons and determined I could do better, and allowed me to review the material and resubmit an exam." -- Timothy M.
  • "instructor was very responive and graded assignments quickly." -- Nancy Y.
  • "The instructor is very smart, available, and kind." -- Heaven B.
  • "Very nice course." -- marios xenofon I.